How To Love Someone With Depression
Chances are, you know someone who suffers from mental illness. Regardless of whether you've ever experienced it yourself, you're probably aware of how extremely hard it can be to cope. Although we don't always regard anxiety, depression, OCD, or bipolar disorder with the same seriousness and concern that we do physical illness, they aren't any less real or dangerous. Sometimes it can feel like your life has been stolen away from you. Sometimes it's hard to remember what life was even like, before.Treating mental illness can be difficult. Oftentimes it isn't as easy as taking your medication and walking away. Recovery can require counseling, behavior therapy, and a lot of support from loved ones. My own struggle with depression has taught me a good deal about how to ask for help. My friends and family (my amazing husband, in particular) have learned about the effects my mental illness has on me, how to recognize when I'm having a particularly hard time, and what they can do to aid me in my recovery. This article goes out to them, and anyone else who wants to help. Here's what you can do to love someone who suffers from mental illness, particularly depression.
One of the best things you can do to better understand what someone else is going through is to read up on their condition. Google is a marvelous thing, although you'll want to make sure that the web pages you're reading from are credible ones. One caveat: never assume that you know more about their illness than your loved one does. Your best source for the way that they're feeling and their preferred methods of recovery is the person, themselves.
You may already have a certain perception of mental illness: for example, you've probably seen a photo somewhere of a person sitting with their head in their hands to represent depression. You may think that a depressed person has constant fits of crying, or that they hardly ever smile because of their illness.While some depictions of mental illness may be somewhat accurate, it's never a good idea to assume that a mentally ill person should look or act in a certain way. A person's illness may be obvious, or they may have gotten good at hiding it. Everyone's methods of coping are different. Please also refrain from assuming what a mentally ill person is capable of doing or not doing on any given day. Sometimes a depressed individual might be able to go to work or carry out other responsibilities. Other times, they may not even be able to get out of bed.
A great way to avoid assuming is to check in with mentally ill loved ones regularly. "Do you feel well enough to...?" or even just a simple "How are you feeling today?" are great ways to stay up-to-date on the way that a person is doing on any given day. Ask if there's anything you can do to help or any tasks that you can help with or motivate them to complete. You can also ask about a person's experiences with mental illness in order to better acquaint yourself with their circumstances, but be sure to be respectful; don't press.
Offer your ear on days that they might want to talk about their illness, but respect times when the person may not feel very talkative or willing to participate in physical affection. It isn't your job to diagnose them, and unless they've asked for advice, they may not want you to provide any. Sometimes, just being able to talk about their experiences out loud is enough. Be as tolerant and open-minded as you can.
Encourage & Motivate
Depression is far from its usual media portrayal of constant sadness; it's a deep feeling of melancholy that destroys motivation, numbing sufferers from feeling other emotions strongly. While small moments of laughter and momentary happiness may sneak in, the majority of the time is spent feeling that there will be no permanent end to the despair.Even motivating oneself to shower, change clothes, and clean dishes during a depressive episode can be extremely difficult. It helps to have someone who will help you to make lists and complete regular tasks. Sometimes all it takes is someone to hold you accountable for getting things done and remind you when it seems like you're getting stuck in inaction. Offer to drive them to doctor's appointments or to fold laundry. Text a reminder to shower and follow up later to see if they've done it. Your efforts won't go unnoticed.If you or a loved one is suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or use their online chat option. We at Deliberate want you to know that you are loved and that your mental illness does not define you.